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“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast

9. There’s A Lot Of Money To Be Made In Poverty

Source: SOUTHERN EXPOSURE, Date: Fall 1993, Title: “Poverty, Inc. Why the poor pay more-and who really profits,” Authors: Mike Hudson, Eric Bates, Barry Yeoman, Adam Feuerstem

SYNOPSIS: Want to know what is the hottest new profit center for big blue-chip corporations like ITT, General Motors, American Express, and others? The acceptable term is “fringe banking;” the less accept­able, but more accurate, term is “loan sharking.”

Fringe banks are pawn shops and check cashing outlets-operations that serve low-income people, usu­ally in urban ghettos, who don’t fit into the picture at mainstream banks. Interest on pawn shop loans typically runs over 200 percent, and check cashers charge two to 10 per­cent of a check’s value for cashing it. These are just two examples of the ways some large U.S. corpora­tions are profiting from the cycle of poverty, particularly in the South.

The Fall 1993 cover article of Southern Exposure magazine docu­ments how huge national and inter­national corporations own and finance a growing “poverty industry” that targets low-income, blue-collar, and minority consumers for fraud, exploitation, and price gouging.

In addition to “fringe banks,” other money-making endeavors include:

* Second-mortgage companies­ making loans with 30 percent interest to pay off bills or make repairs

* Used-car dealers-working in tandem with banks and finance companies to bilk people with “bad credit”

* Finance companies (ITT is a standout here)-charging huge interest rates by acting as a lender of last resort for borrowers with lim­ited incomes

* Rent-to-own stores-which constitute a $3.7-billion-a-year business, charging customers about five times what they’d pay at tradi­tional retailers

* Trade schools-lending out federal loan money on the promise of giving usable skills to low-­income students, then leaving them with no skills and a big debt

* Debt collectors-the not-so­-friendly people who badger, threaten, and coerce low-income borrowers to pay back funds regard­less of their circumstances

It is a normal practice for com­panies engaged in these activities to entice low-income people into deeper and deeper debt, at interest rates many times higher than those paid by middle-class Americans. A typical example: a 66-year-old Atlanta man pawned his car for $300. He agreed to pay back $545 over twelve weeks, but fell behind in his payments. The pawn broker tacked on late charges and threat­ened to have the man arrested. When the borrower went to Legal Aid for help, the attorney discov­ered that the loan contract listed the annual interest rate as 24 per­cent; the real rate was 550 percent.

Unlike banks and S&Ls, huge financial service businesses-part of such mega-corporations as American Express, Sears, General Electric, General Motors, and Westinghouse-are not subject to federal regulations that require financial disclosures, limit wheeling-and-dealing, combat racial discrimination in lending, and put caps on interest rates. Ironically, banks are crying foul, while simultaneously extending huge lines of credit to the very companies they’re accusing of undermining them.

SSU Censored Researcher: Jesse Boggs

COMMENTS: This is an extraor­dinary untold story of how some of America’s biggest corporations are making billions of dollars by tar­geting the poor for profit. In the introduction to the special 28-page section on “Poverty, Inc.” published in Southern Exposure, Mike Hudson, a reporter with the

Roanoke Times & World-News, and Eric Bates, editor of Southern Exposure, describe this feature as an explanation of how the poverty industry really works-and how average citizens are fighting back. Support for the extensive investiga­tive project was provided by the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and the Dick Goldensohn Fund. Mike Hudson, who spent two years investigating the poverty industry, provides the background on this story.

“The nation’s news media have largely ignored the story and its ram­ifications. To our knowledge, no major news outlet-or small one for that matter-has identified the broad scope of corporate America’s role in profiteering from the poor via credit fraud and usury. No one has called the `poverty industry’ what it is-a huge, multi-billion-dollar col­lection of companies fueled by Wall Street funding and propped up by a new veneer of corporate respectability. Nor have the media reported in a comprehensive way on how these businesses are using their polish and resources to engineer leg­islative `deregulation’ in nearly every state-gutting laws that had once given low-income and minority con­sumers a measure of protection from predatory lending.

“There have been a few notable exceptions to this rule of media inattention. These including reporting by the Boston Globe and the Atlanta newspapers on second­ mortgage fraud against minority homeowners, Mary Kane’s excellent coverage of inner-city economics for Newhouse News Service, and a Wall Street journal story by Alix Freedman on how the nation’s largest rent-to-own chain takes advantage of the poor.

“But, once again, these stories are the exceptions. The major media have missed the big picture either by ignoring the story altogether, or by limiting their critical scrutiny to narrow segments of the poverty industry (or specific com­panies such as Fleet Finance) and failing to make connections between the various businesses that market to the poor.

`And, to make matters worse, national business magazines and major daily newspapers have quite frequently produced stories that read like press releases from these businesses.

‘A typical example: a business­ page article in one major Midwest newspaper (`Pssst! Hocking your VCR has gotten respectable’), which trumpeted the arrival of a national pawn chain but failed to point out that a loan at a `respectable’ pawn broker in the state could carry an annual interest rate of 276 percent.

“The general public would ben­efit in a number of ways from greater exposure to this subject. Such exposure would:

* alert the public to a silent but devastating crisis that is pushing people deeper into poverty and destabilizing neighborhoods.

* warn individual consumers so that they could protect themselves from being preyed upon and seek redress for past exploitation.

* provide citizens and activists the information they need to fight for tougher legislation and law enforcement efforts aimed at reining in these practices.

* offer investors and stock­holders in these companies a clearer picture of how their money is being used, and who is being hurt by their investments.

* give citizens a fuller under­standing of the nature of poverty and economics in disadvantaged neighborhoods, thus fueling the debate about welfare, inner-city blight and related issues.

“The primary beneficiaries of limited coverage are the corpora­tions that profit from these prac­tices, along with their stockholders and investors. The less scrutiny they receive, the more effective they can be in attracting invest­ment capital and in cultivating pos­itive images with legislators and consumers. The profits they make from these ventures, as our stories show, are huge.

“Others who benefit include leg­islators who receive campaign con­tributions from these companies (and in the case of many lawyer/leg­islators, lucrative private legal work). Likewise, corporate news media benefit from the advertising that these businesses buy from them.

“When the [Southern Exposure] issue came out, we sent out press releases to a number of other publi­cations, but have received limited response. The Associated Press wrote a story on our study, but dis­tribution of the article was limited to North Carolina and was picked up only by a few papers.

“We are trying to get the article reprinted in other alternative publi­cations and are encouraging other journalists to pursue the story. In addition, the publisher of Southern Exposure, the Institute for Southern Studies, is in the process of creating a quarterly newsletter, Poverty, Inc., which will continue to track these issues and serve as a networking vehicle for journalists, activists, attorneys, and others con­cerned about the subject.

“Since the Southern Exposure is­sue came out, Rep. Henry Gonzalez, D -Texas, has introduced legislation that would put tough federal limits on the rent-to-own industry.”

Meanwhile, on December 16, it was announced that the State Attorney General of Georgia and Fleet Finance have agreed on a set­tlement of the state’s criminal investigation for a sum of $115 mil­lion (the equivalent of about two year’s profits for Fleet Finance in the early 1990s.)

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